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Winds knock out power to thousands in Great Lakes

Wild wind with gusts topping 60 mph knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of customers and disrupted travel from the Great Lakes to the East Coast.

Nearly 250,000 customers lost power in Ohio alone late Wednesday and early Thursday. There were also about 52,000 outages in Michigan, more than 30,000 around Buffalo, N.Y., and more than 200,000 in Pennsylvania.

A downed power line forced the closure of Interstate 90 west of Erie, Pa., for three hours on Thursday morning.

In Kentucky, devastated by a crippling ice storm two week ago, Public Service Commission spokesman Andrew Melnykovych said Wednesday night that the winds had resulted in at least 120,000 new outages. Most of those were in the southeastern part of the state, while the ice storm outages were mostly in western Kentucky.

Outages were also reported in Tennessee, New Jersey, North Carolina, Indiana and Maryland.

The windy weather was attributed to a strong low pressure system. The weather service reported a wind gust of 92 mph in Allegheny County in Pennsylvania, but said most gusts in the area were no greater than 60 mph. About 200 people in the county were evacuated from homes and an assisted living center because of a storm-related gas leak.

Gusts topping 65 mph were reported Wednesday night in Indiana and Ohio as a cold front moved through. Gusts as high as 45 mph were still being reported by Thursday morning in that area.

To the east, wind gusts of 48 mph were reported in New York City, and average flight delays topped 3 hours Thursday morning at LaGuardia Airport.

A warm spell that preceded the cold front led to flooding in some areas as snow melted and ice jams formed on creeks.

Some streets were underwater in a flood-prone area of Findlay, Ohio. Police ordered bystanders off a bridge in Buffalo, N.Y., and closed the span Wednesday after a huge ice jam built up on a creek. It eventually broke up. An ice jam also backed up the Grand River at Grand Rapids, Mich.

In New Jersey, a person was killed early Thursday in Union County when a tree toppled onto a car. Authorities said it was not known whether the wind was to blame.

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